Iron Man #239-240
Issue(s): Iron Man #239, Iron Man #240
But last issue and again here we see why the business was failing; it's being "haunted" by the anti-corporate villain, the Ghost.
Hammer sends Blacklash, Boomerang, and the new Blizzard (who Hammer had freed from jail last issue) to try to drive out the Ghost...
...but they fail.
So Hammer decides to contact Tony Stark and ask him to get Iron Man to face the Ghost. It's a win-win situation for Hammer; either Iron Man defeats the Ghost and the company is no longer a financial burden, or the Ghost wins and Iron Man dies. But Tony agrees because he's decided that the new Blizzard, Donald Gill, is still young and not yet a hardened criminal, and so he's hoping to get the guy back on a straight track. And Hammer seems to know this, which is really why he had him broken out of jail and included him in this super-villain trio.
Iron Man's encounter with the Ghost goes as bad as Hammer's villains.
This sequence below is a little disappointing. I like Guice's artwork. But the storytelling here is poor. The idea is that Iron Man is flying into an invisible wall. But Guice frames the shot so close, it's not that clear what's going on, and then the following panel reverses the direction.
Amateur storytelling stuff that i expect from modern artists, not a veteran like Guice.
The way the fight with the Ghost ends, though, is really cool. After that crash, the Ghost is able to put a device on Iron Man...
...and it makes Iron Man as intangible as the Ghost is, except Iron Man isn't able to come out of it.
Iron Man's way out of the situation is equally clever. He can't actually touch the device to disable it, but he can trigger an EMP that temporarily shuts it down.
And then, since the EMP also affects his own systems, Rhodey has to shoot the device off.
For the rematch, Iron Man brings Rhodey along, and Justin Hammer sends his villains to help, too.
Of course, Rhodey doesn't have any powers or special tech and can't really keep up with the others.
I'd almost say this, along with his comments from last issue, were a build up to him returning to the Iron Man armor, but we're still a ways away from that.
The fight against the Ghost actually starts going well...
...but then the other villains switch sides.
In the end, the Ghost sets up an explosive device, reasoning that he'll survive it by going intangible but everybody else will die. Iron Man uses his EMP again, allowing everyone time to escape before the explosion. And when it's over, Iron Man convinces Blizzard to turn himself in.
But as Iron Man says, the situation basically ended in a draw. At least Stark hadn't yet bought Electronica Fabrizzi.
It's a fun set of fight issues.
The main subplot is the situation with Kathy Dare, which continues to get worse. She photobombs Tony's press conferences...
...interrupts his date with Rae LaCoste by breaking into his emergency network...
...and travels to Italy to join him while he's dealing with the Electronica Fabrizzi problem.
Even more worryingly, it's implied that she damaged the brakes on Rae's car, an escalation of the tire situation from Iron Man #236.
Tony is still treating her liked a spoiled rich girl and not a mentally unbalanced person, though.
I also think it's funny how Rhodey is chatting up that housekeeper in the scan above (and enjoying a post-coital smoke in the third panel?). The idea that Rhodey is oversexed may not be his best attribute, but for consistency little nods like that are a nice touch (and i'm really just talking about the first panel, people!).
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showAbe Zimmer, Blizzard II, Boomerang, Felix Alvarez, Ghost, Iron Man, Justin Hammer, Kathleen Dare, Mrs. Arbogast, Rae LaCoste, War Machine, Whiplash (Blacklash)
The Ghost's trap always bothered me- why can't Tony just take off the chestplate?
Posted by: Michael | September 14, 2014 5:54 PM
Yet another scene of Tony's desire to be half-naked in front of other men. He seems a bit too comfortable about that in front of Rhodes. Maybe, that's why all his relationships with girls don't work.
Posted by: clyde | September 14, 2014 6:30 PM
Michael, i took it that the device made everything about Iron Man intangible, so he couldn't remove his armor. The fact that he can still trigger his powers cybernetically is what saves him.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 14, 2014 6:39 PM
So the Ghost knew enough about the armor to disable it, but didn't know about the cybernetic link? it seems awfully convenient.
Posted by: clyde | September 14, 2014 6:44 PM
He had a device that made stuff intangible. He put it on Iron Man, and it made him intangible. But if both Stark and his armor were intangible, they were still "in phase" enough for him to be able to control his armor mentally.
It made sense to me! ;-)
Posted by: fnord12 | September 14, 2014 6:48 PM
Intangibility is hard to delimit. We don't know how Tony commanded this armor; maybe he has a neural interface of some kind. But even if he has to touch some part of the armor to command it, the plain fact is that he can still do so - he is not slipping out of it, after all.
I have more of a problem with the Ghost's hand being both solid enough to pull Boomerang's head and intangible enough to pass through a wall at the same time.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | September 14, 2014 7:49 PM
Tony is also dealing with an awful problem with some awful white pants. Yech!
Posted by: david banes | September 14, 2014 8:38 PM
The Ghost is still wicked cool. His powers and his anti-corporate attitude make him big fun. even his dialogue, forgoing the drama of a countdown. and like you say, a cool deathtrap and solution.
Rhodey beats Boomerang with his gun. I really don't understand why he bothers with boomerangs if he can't use them to beat guns.
Posted by: kveto from prague | September 15, 2014 4:17 PM
I enjoyed these issues in real time. We got some cool villains, (I still miss Blacklash) an escalation of the Kathy Dare situation, and a neat cliffhanger in between. Those were the days.
Posted by: Clutch | September 16, 2014 5:12 AM
Another fun set of issues. However, if I remember correct, once again there is a lost opportunity for villains who fought the "original" Iron Man to make comments on the "new" one. It would have been better if Ghost had remarked, "The original Iron Man would never have fallen for this" or gotten some kind of remark from Blacklash (an old, old foe) comparing "this" Iron Man to the "old" one. Or even a comment from Hammer giving Tony his regrets and implying Tony needs to get better help.
I don't remember any such comments, but since I don't have the issues with me, if I am wrong, please let me know.
Posted by: Chris | September 19, 2014 6:38 PM
No, you're definitely right. No comment like that from Hammer. When the Ghost first sees Iron Man, he says "We've both changed since our last encounter" and then "I see the changes in your armor are more than cosmetic!". And then no special comments from Blacklash or the other villains.
Nothing that specifically contradicts the idea (especially if you assume that Ghost is a whack job not keeping up with the news) but as you say, it was a missed opportunity.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 19, 2014 7:09 PM
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